Houston pitchers and catchers report in less than six weeks. The Astros’ first spring game is less than eight weeks away.
If you’re dissatisfied with or you’re getting frantic or concerned about the roster and/or lineup, remember this: After January 14, 2015, the Astros.
- Acquired Evan Gattis from the Braves.
- Acquired Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena from the Cubs.
- Traded Carlos Corporan to Texas.
- Signed free agent Colby Rasmus.
- Signed free agent Roberto Hernandez.
- Signed free agent Joe Thatcher.
Obviously, the off season is still fluid and what you see now will likely not be what you get next month or opening day.
Soon, however, those fearless prognosticators will begin to fearlessly prognosticate. The Astros will not have the surprise advantage they did in 2015 and, in fact, some have already gone out on the limb expecting the team will maintain and even improve its standing in 2016.
About a month ago, MLB Reports predicted the Astros will have a one-game improvement, which would be good enough to win the AL West by five games over the Rangers. Michael Laudick has also predicted a division championship for the Astros.
Of course, many of these predictions for the Astros and other teams don’t take player movement into consideration. For example, the Astros have strengthened their bullpen considerably, diminishing their depth in the process.
With all that in mind, here are a few early, early predictions.
- Surprise player of 2016: Valbuena.
- Breakout player of 2016: Springer.
- Bomb of 2016: Rasmus, considering his $15.8 salary.
- First baseman with most games in 2016: Anyone not named Singleton.
- Regression of the Year: Lance McCullers Jr.
- Best move of the off season: Not yet made.
- Fearless prediction for AL West: Astros nudge out Rangers.